Author: Luke the Beloved Physician
Date Written: 60's or 80's AD
Date of Narrative: 30-50 AD
Acts is the second volume of the two-volume work, Luke-Acts. Written by Luke the beloved physician (
Acts begins with a recapitulation of Jesus' ascension mentioned at the end of Luke. Jesus tells the apostles that they will bring his message to
The apostles, the first bishops of the Church, appoint deacons to assist them (6). Stephen, one of these deacons, is executed for his faith and so becomes the proto-martyr of the Church. The persecutor Saul encounters Jesus in a dramatic vision and becomes a Christian (9). His named is changed to Paul and Acts follows his life. He is also the author of many of the letters in the New Testament.
Church authority becomes a key issue when debate is raging over the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Church. Peter's vision of unclean animals (10) and his speech before the apostles (15) constitute the deciding factors in favor of the Gentiles. Peter and Paul figure as the central apostles in Acts. They each give seven speeches and each plays a particular role: Peter as the central authority of the Church; Paul as the chief evangelist. In fact, to this day their skulls are in adjacent reliquaries in St. John Lateran and statues of the two flank St. Peter's Basilica in
The Holy Spirit's action is central to the movement of the plot. He descends on the apostles with power, inspires their preaching, tells them where to go and aids them in making doctrinal decisions. The Holy Spirit fills Stephen when he testifies before the Sanhedrin and the Spirit comes upon the Gentiles to indicate God's desire for their salvation.
Twice the issue of Paul's Roman citizenship is brought up. Luke carefully shows that his practices were not contrary to Roman law and that each time he was imprisoned or beaten there was no legal justification. In the last few chapters, Paul gets entangled in an inefficient legal system. The Jews in the
By Mark Giszczak